Brief History of Modern Electric Cars:
As some of you may know, electric powered cars actually precede petrol powered cars. In the late 1800s and early 1900s electric taxis could be seen across London and other major cities across the world. The decline of the electric car came around 1915 as petroleum reserves were discovered and the development of the road networks meant more demand for further distance travel. By the 1930s the electric car industry had almost completely collapsed.
The resurgence of the electric car came around the 1990s, primarily in California, as small personal transport vehicles such as Honda EV plus were developed as part of a government lead initiative to promote zero emission car use. The use and development of these cars died out as they didn't catch on and complications in the politics between car manufacturers, government and consumers arose. American's love for gas guzzling trucks and low fuel prices meant that the development of electric cars was put to the back of auto makers priority lists.
It wasn’t until around 2005 when a new car maker ‘Tesla’ previewed their first car, a fully electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. It was the first highway legal electric car as well as the first electric car to travel over 200 miles on a single charge. Since the concept of an all electric car was proved to the public as a viable alternative to a petrol/diesel powered car other manufacturers started developing electric cars too. Nissan, GM, and Chevrolet all developed electric cars and were made available to the public by late 2010. Since then, almost every car manufacture has had involvement in electric cars with most creating an all electric car of their own.
Current Day Electric Cars:
Today electric cars such as the Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen Golf-E, BMW 330e, Audi A3 e-tron, Chevrolet Volt and Renault Zoe (to name a few) are becoming a more common sight on the roads. Tesla report that over 100,000 of its Model S have been sold globally since its launch 3 years ago.
There is no doubt that electric cars are currently still a niche product with the current cost of electric cars being a significant factor — the best cars costing over £100,000 to buy new. Other issues include range anxiety (the concern over the distance that can be traveled on a single charge) as charging takes significantly longer than the conventional petrol station procedure. The best electric cars can travel up to 300 miles on a single charged however these are also the most expensive! The combination of cost and range anxiety are the two leading factors behind the lack of popularity of electric cars. Another issue which concerns consumers is the longevity of the batteries and hardware of the cars as nobody yet knows if the batteries that power these cars will actually be useable 10 or 20 years down the line. With the replacements being extremely costly and the potential of massive depreciation, this is another reason why most people are not yet convinced by electric cars.
The Future of Electric Cars:
While like everything the future of electric cars is hard to predict, the likelihood is (at least in the near future) that their popularity will grow, especially as petrol and diesel prices worldwide continue to increase. Developing technology leading to price reductions and more accessibility means future electric cars will be affordable to the average consumer and no longer just a toy for the wealthy few. Tesla recently announced its Model 3 concept which will start production in late 2017 - it will cost just $35k with a range over 215 miles. It is reported that the first year of production of the Model 3 has already sold out and as many as 400,000 people have put a deposit down on a car internationally. Tesla once again have potentially proved the viability of the electric car but this time for the average car consumer.
However while electric cars may seem like the future, the electricity has to come from somewhere and this is where many think the electric car's downfall will eventually be, especially once their popularity starts to grow exponentially. While alternative energy supply methods such as solar, wind or nuclear power are available, fossil fuels still account for 80% of the world's electricity production, so for the time being the green future of electric cars may not be that green after all.